In the eighth episode of the first season of Jane the Virgin, this somehow got messier, and I am just going to operate under the perpetual assumption that this will always get messier. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jane the Virgin.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of drugging, ableism.
I have so much more of this show left and yet it feels like I’ve watched three seasons of Jane the Virgin. NOPE. I’m buckling myself in for this ride, as it’s sure to be a wild one of this is what happens in just EIGHT EPISODES.
You know, it’s very interesting to me that there are two contrasting scenes within “Chapter Eight” where something is played for comedy, and then the story veers into an unexpected direction. But I’m going to start with the less-than-stellar option. I really, really don’t like what happened to Luisa. I get that the show is writing this from a tradition. Luisa’s fate here is certainly something that you’d see in a telenovela, and for the moment, Luisa is out of the way. Rose gets to protect herself and her marriage. However, this is like… not a fictional thing? The show appears to have unintentionally fallen into an actual thing that has happened to women. Like, women have been committed for their “unnatural” desires, and that’s honestly what this feels like.
It also leaves us with a show where there are two women who aren’t straight, but one is an addict who started an affair with her stepmother and inseminated the wrong patient, and she is committed to an institution by a bisexual woman who doesn’t really seem to see anything wrong with such a monstrous practice. So… so much for queer/sapphic representation??? We have no other queer or lesbian or bi characters anywhere else within the show, so that makes these two stand out even more. Of course, there’s a chance that this won’t end up in this place; I fully expect that we’ll see way more of Luisa and Rose, and I doubt Rose will be able to keep this secret forever. Still, I know that it’s hard to comment about an arc in something when I consume fiction the way I do; I’m still unspoiled for the vast majority of this. But that doesn’t mean I can’t dislike something as it is now. I just hope it gets better.
So, I think that the man from the crate is actually Milos, the mysterious man from Petra’s past. If that’s the case, then the world that Petra is trying to build in retaliation is not going to last. One of those things is thwarted because Petra coincidentally hired the wrong person, but I also realized that Petra is just reacting. She’s trying as hard as she can to do two things: increase revenue at the hotel while actively making Rafael’s life worse. At some point, this will give her diminishing returns, and thus, I think that’s why Lachlan saves that video of the two of them. (Which… gross, dude. Ugh, Petra and Lachlan really don’t care about other people.) He’s still out to protect himself and his interests, so even if he really does miss Petra, he doesn’t trust her.
But back to Petra. Whatever her backstory is, I think that explains why she is written as so desiring of money. Something happened, she owes a lot of money, and she is desperate to make sure no one else discovers what her life used to be. I assume that Magda knows everything? Is that why Petra is so protective of her? They have such a strange relationship, and I want that explained, too.
Jane and Rafael
Y’all, I don’t feel like I’ve ever been so torn over a ship in my LIFE. I can sit here and recognize the chemistry—the “spark,” to use the motif spread across “Chapter Eight”—between these two, but then there’s a huge part of me that can’t stop thinking of the logistics, of the practicality of this relationship. If these two are an endgame couple, I would believe it. It would require an immense amount of work to get to that point, but I do think that Jane and Rafael are now aware of just how much work is set before them. They truly come from disparate worlds, and it’s not just an issue of wealth, though that plays a part in this. There are cultural differences between them. Spiritual and moral ones! And it’s not like they need to be “overcome,” because that’s the wrong way of looking at this.
Take the “reactions” both characters have towards learning new information about one another. Ultimately, Jane hits the nail on the head: these two, if they are genuinely going to try to make an effort, will have countless “bad” moments. How will they react in those moments? How will they get through them? It’s fair that Jane is having reservations because she HAS to consider these things!!! How will they find common ground across such different lived experiences?
Like Xiomara, I saw the ending of this episode as a complicated thing. It is a good thing that Rafael was willing to sacrifice himself and a stake in his hotel so that Jane could pursue a lawsuit. It’s also deeply, deeply moving that Jane was willing to drop said lawsuit to protect her undocumented abuela, which is like the REALEST thing in this whole episode. I literally grew up with countless friends whose parents and abuelos/abuelas were anxious about the very same thing, who had to protect their families by avoiding any possible complications within the law. But… is that enough for these two? Is it a sign that they are starting to love one another? I don’t know! I want the best for them, but there’s also the problem of Rafael’s messy life. Other people keep interfering, like Petra did by hiring that sex worker. Is that ever going to stop?
Obviously, this is all made more complex because Xiomara is going through her own emotional nightmare, and she can’t help but see the parallels! Look, Marcos made sense at the time; he is gorgeous, kind, and there was clearly some sort of interest there. It also didn’t help Xiomara that Rogelio was around so much. OH MY GOD, IT’S SO AWKWARD, GO HOME ROGELIO. But the root of this problem is that Xiomara is denying what she feels and what she desires. She’s doing so out of love, yes, but that doesn’t make her attraction to Rogelio disappear, either. So, Xiomara is trapped: she’s trapped between what she craves and what she thinks is best for her family. And right now, she’s making Jane her priority. Which is so deeply, deeply admirable, but I also want her to be happy!!!
Jane the Virgin
So, much of Luisa’s return initially felt comedic, and then it goes to this really ugly place. There’s another plot here that starts from an ugly place, but goes somewhere beautiful, and I gotta say, y’all. I was shocked by how much empathy and kindness was given to the character of the unnamed sex worker. That whole situation was TERRIBLE. As someone who has been drugged before, it’s disorienting, terrifying, confusing… and this was so casual for Petra. But what she didn’t count on was kindness. The writers made a fascinating choice here, and my favorite scene in the episode is when that woman came not only to apologize to Jane for what she’d done (though… maybe apologize to the person you drugged, too?), but to tell the truth. It’s a raw, unexpected scene of sincerity, and Jane recognized that this person had acted out of desperation. In this, we get an initial parallel that is ten IMMEDIATELY subverted, as Jane rejects the notion that she is some messiah for anyone.
And yet she still offers her the hug, because sometimes, that’s what someone needs.
Of interest: this episode has two emotional hugs, but the other one—between Lachlan and Petra—is nowhere near as kind as this one. Actually, not sure there’s any kindness there!
The video for “Chapter Eight” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– You can now pre-order my second YA novel, Each of Us a Desert, which will be released on September 15, 2020 from Tor Teen!
– Not only that, but my very first pre-order campaign is now live for North American readers! If you submit proof of pre-order, you can get a limited edition print that comes with the book.
– If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all announcements regarding my books, sign up for my newsletter! DO IT.